Category Archives: Time Saving Tips

Out-the-Door-Box

land of nod

Ever try to walk out the door with an arm full of stuff to put in the car? Like library books to return, a tote for work, your gym bag, lunchbox, mail for the post office, etc? How do you get out the door with all your stuff or better yet, remember to even take what you need with you?

Well, even I surprise myself sometimes with my ideas and this one goes on top of “My All Time Greatest Moments!“  I created an Out-the-Door-Box a few years back.  Here’s how it works:

original-thirty-one-tote

Using any container, place it by the door you most often use to come into and out of the house.  This container is meant to come in and out with you, so make sure you can carry it easily and it fits in the front seat of your car. Personally, I use a Thirty-One tote like this one.

Every time you think of something you need to take with you in the car, put it in the container.  It’s that simple.

So, say you are shampooing your hair and remember that Suzy asked to borrow your slow cooker.  As soon as you get to the kitchen, put the slow cooker in the Out-the-Door-Box. Need to take pants to the dry cleaner? Put them in the Out-the-Door-Box.  Add snacks to it, coupons you’ll need for the day, etc. Get the idea?

east2eden.co.uk

east2eden.co.uk

Then, when you are actually leaving the house, grab the whole box and place it in the front seat next to you. It’s magical, really.  You will have all those things with you that you needed.

When you return home, take the empty box back into the house to its designated spot, where it waits to be filled up again.

The out-the-door-box is such a simple solution to corralling all that daily stuff of life and will help you to corral all the little things that are coming in and out of the house everyday. It’s not a bad idea to an out-the-door box for each person of the family!

 

Bento Box by Rubbermaid

Bento Box by Rubbermaid

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Spring Organizing Tips

spring organizing tips.jpg

They say it’s spring time. By “they”, I mean the calendar people, but it surely doesn’t feel that way around these parts. Still, I can’t ignore the winter clutter that has made it’s way into my house and I’m ready to do some spring cleaning and organizing!

We often avoid spring cleaning and organizing because we simply don’t have hours and hours to dedicate to a project. So, year after year we let areas of our home go untouched. Here I share will 5 Spring Organizing Tips that will help you no matter how busy you are!

These 5 areas can be tackled and organized by the time summer hits and it won’t take you more than 30 minutes at a time to do it!

1. Paper-

Take all paper older than 1 month (with the exception of bills and really important documents) and toss into a box. Tape it shut and write the date on it.

Store it until the end of the year. If you haven’t needed it all year, toss or shred contents.

2. Email-

Take all emails that are older than 2 weeks and move into a “holding” folder in your email.

Give yourself 2-3 months to see if you have needed any of them. If not, then take the plunge and delete them! Try the new unsubscribe program, Unroll.me to help you get rid of some of your newsletter and advertising emails.

*The next 3 projects need a timer set for 30 minutes*

email clutter

3. Refrigerator & Freezer(s)-

Toss out anything old, expired, & rarely used. If the timer goes off after 30 minutes, quit and schedule another 30 minutes to finish in your calendar.page1image12592 page1image12752page1image12912

In your next 30 minutes, clean refrigerator shelves and drawers with a warm soapy dish towel.

In another 30 minutes, do the same in the freezer.

Inside-the-Refrigerator1-600x398

4. Garage-

Start by tossing out old paint, old chemicals, and anything you can see that is obvious trash to you.

In another 30 minutes, pick one corner to continue the purge and toss process. When your timer goes off, quit! Keep repeating this 30 minute process until the whole garage has been gone through.

5. Closets-

Grab a paper grocery bag or small laundry basket.
For 30 minutes toss anything you don’t want into the bag.

Repeat this process until you have gone through the whole closet. Don’t bounce between different closets-stick to ONE closet until it’s complete.

Once you have finished ONE closet, donate the bags.

You are now ready to organize what’s left! Buy containers, hooks, & shelves and organize it.

Don’t feel pressured to do ALL these things. Pick one or two and start there. And don’t forget to get your family involved.

page2image9736 page2image9896

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5 Tools to Organize Your Life {video}

organize your life

Getting organized isn’t just about things and rooms. It is also about time and to-do lists and schedules and getting things done. In this segment of Organize Your Life, I share 5 Tools to Organize Your Life that includes 4 apps for your smartphone and computer and one old-school way!

1. Clear App- {list making}

Life is messy. Keep it together with Clear, an amazing new app for list-keeping that is unbelievably simple, quick and satisfying to use.

  • Personal to-do list
  • Shopping list
  • Quick notes list for phone numbers and things
  • List of movies to watch, or books to read
  • Guest list for that party
  • Bucket list for those big life goals

2. Momento-{journaling}

Like having a digital diary.

With Momento in your pocket you can write your diary ‘on the go’, capturing moments whenever you find the time. A beautiful interface coupled with powerful tagging, makes it quick and easy to write about your day and browse moments from your past.

 3. Time Planner-{productivity and planning}

TIME Planner is an activity planning app that brings diversity into your everyday life. It helps you organize and fill your day with tasks of different nature, covering the most significant categories such as Health, Home, Work, Rest, Study, and many more.

  • Create tasks with different categories and colors
  • Add actual time frames to each task
  • Ability to evaluate productivity based on actual vs. planned amount of time

4. Evernote-{capturing everything!}

Evernote makes it easy to remember things big and small from your everyday life using your computer, phone, tablet and the web. It does has a dozen features to capture almost everything in life, but my VERY favorite is the NEW feature is it’s Post-it Note camera feature

  • Take a picture of the Post-it Note
  • Text is searchable and auto-titled
  • Set different colors to be automatically organized
  • Any Post-it Notes can be used, but 3M came out with a color set just for Evernote.

5.  Plain ‘ole Paper Calendar-{Daily planning and to-do’s}

Yes, even though I have an iPhone, and iPad, and a Mac laptop, I still use a paper calendar to jot down thoughts, ideas, and a daily schedule every week and then again, everyday.

I also take scratch paper and make a daily checklist that I carry around with me! Check out how to do a Brain Dump.

 

 

 

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March Organizing Challenge-Laundry

march organizing challenge.jpg

“Hello March. Nice to see you so soon. I just committed to resolutions in January and I’m still getting them going, and here you are again”.

Do you ever feel like this? That the weeks and months just keep marching along and you’re still trying to catch up from last month? I know I do, especially in the laundry department. The laundry to me is like the mail…it never stops coming and I can’t keep up with it! That’s why several years ago I decided to over haul the way I do laundry and I can honestly tell you that it’s the single best thing I’ve done for my home.

made with Ikea

made with Ikea

That’s why the March Organizing Challenge is all about laundry and revamping the way you get your family’s clothes clean. Some of you are good in this department and don’t need a total revamp, but others are drowning in dirty AND clean clothes! Yes, I’ve seen your piles of clean clothes on the couch just waiting to be folded! Busted.

There are some basic tenets of my laundry system that I am going to challenge you to change.  You might roll your eyes and mutter nasty words under your breath after reading them, but I swear to you that if you’ll do them for one month, your laundry dilemmas will fade away! If you hate all my ways, go back to your way. My desire for you is that you will never spend an entire day having a “laundry day”!

laundry sign

1.  Do a load a day

2. Have ONE central laundry basket for the family. Only TWO if there are special circumstances.

3. Fold clothes right out of the dryer. Therefore, DO NOT move a clean pile to another location to be folded unless you are going to fold right away. Like immediately.

These are the 3 basic tenets of the March Organizing Challenge for laundry. I will address other laundry circumstances all month long, including how to get your family involved, when to train your kids to do laundry and my super-easy sock solution. But starting March 1st, implement these 3 tasks into your laundry system.

If you currently have piles of dirty laundry as you read this, I suggest you get current ( your LAST laundry day ever!) and do all of it. Then you can start the doing a load a day. I want the process of getting your family’s clothes clean to be as painless as possible and not complicated!

Comment below if you are doing the challenge or send me a comment on the Simplified Living Today Facebook Page!

TJMaxx

TJMaxx

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Is It Simple?

is it simple.jpg

There are so many complicated things about getting organized, from purging papers and clothes to deciding on what systems work best for your family, but the question I always ask my clients is, “Is it simple?”

It’s the question I posed to a group of moms just this morning as I spoke to their collective group. Is the solution simple? Is the way you  keep things organized things simple? Is it simple for your family to follow? Is it simple to keep up with? And the big kahuna…is the way you are living simple?

Why does simple matter? It matters because the more simple it is to run your household, the more time you have to be with people and do things that have lasting impact. But simple doesn’t mean minimalist or even owning very little. It just means that it’s not complicated to keep up with the daily things of living in your home.

wellbeing.com.au

wellbeing.com.au

The areas I see the most complicated are:

Laundry

Mail & Paper

Meal planning and cooking

Toys

Schedules and scheduling of the family

So, where do you start to un-complicate things and move toward simple? Start by looking around your home and picking ONE thing you can change. Ask yourself, is it simple? Chances are, if it’s messy or cluttered, it’s NOT simple. Then write down what you think would make it simple. Sometimes, the one thing we can do is change a habit or start a new one.

marvelbuilding.com

marvelbuilding.com

If it’s paper you picked, the February Organizing Challenge is a great place to start since it’s all about paper, but otherwise, look at what you wrote down and do something as small as purge ONE pile of paper. Reducing your paper piles is a move toward simple. Then establish a new habit of opening the mail everyday and throwing out ALL junk mail.  That is simple. Making a pile is not.

Commit to making all you do in your home simple in 2014. We are kicking off the March Organizing Challenge on Saturday with making the task of laundry more simple for your family! What will you do to make your home life more simple?

faithatthebeach.com

faithatthebeach.com

 

 

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Quit Stressing Over the Laundry!

Ikea

Ikea

An oldie but goodie from 2012…

I talk about laundry a lot.  It’s always a topic of conversation with moms and a source of pure frustration for most of us.  Without beating a dead horse into the ground, I am going to go over my laundry tips with you, but I want to share two products I absolutely love for the laundry area. My desire for you is that you quit stressing over the laundry!

I recently had one mom exclaim that laundry almost sets an anxiety attack in motion and that she avoids it until she absolutely has to deal with it.  In other words, she only does it when there are no more clean underwear in the house!  The problem with this strategy is that the task of laundry now becomes monumental and can takes days to catch up on it.  Who wants to spend days doing laundry? Not me. Again, quit stressing over the laundry!

BHG

BHG

To start,  do a load a day.  That’s it.  You only do a second one if something special like a uniform needs washed.  Quit letting laundry have so much power over you.

1. Do a load a day!

2. One laundry basket for whole family-can use a sorter style if you prefer, but everyone brings it to the same place.

3. Fold and hang clothes right from dryer. Don’t move dried clothes to another location and fold there.  Do it right away.

4. When folding, separate into individual baskets for each family member. So, as you fold, you are putting each piece into the appropriate        basket.  Allows you to only handle it once.

5. Buy dark socks only for boys.

6. Have a “sock basket”-throw all socks from the dryer into this basket.  It makes a good chore for a child to pair them up and put into the baskets.

7.  Have a separate basket or hanging bag for ripped, torn, extra soiled, or misc laundry pieces.

8.  When wearing clothes from closet, pull hangers out of closet and move to laundry room. This keeps a fresh stash of hangers in the laundry room and ready for the next dried load.

OK, now that you have the basics down for how to do laundry, here are two great products from the Improvements catalog that can work in any laundry area.  They will help you with step #3, fold and hang right from the dryer.

Rolling Laundry Center

Two Tier Laundry Dryer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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February Organizing Challenge {Kickoff 2014}

feb organizing challenge

One of the barriers to getting organized is time. And one of the barriers to staying organized are habits. It’s one thing to take the time to get organized and it’s another thing to keep it that way. So, after working with hundreds of clients, I am convinced that given the time and support, your organizing habits can change.

I’m kicking off a 2014 Organizing Challenge starting February 1st and each month a new challenge will be issued with some guidelines.You have all month to work on the challenge and practice your new habits! I can’t wait to hear how you do and help you work the kinks out of getting organized and living better.

So, you ready?

February Organizing Challenge Kickoff 2014

mail and paper

Yes, we are starting with the biggest first because hey, why not? Mail and paper seem to be the biggest organizing challenge for clients across the board. From businesses to homes, paper can take on a life of it’s own. In this February Organizing Challenge you are going to work on establishing first, what you do with all the paper and second, new habits in dealing with the mail.

1.  Every day in February when you get the mail, you are going to OPEN the mail. Seriously, I cannot tell you how many stacks of unopened mail I have gone through with folks.

Once you open the mail, you will make 3 decisions: 1)What needs to be kept (bills, invite, important letter or info) 2)What is immediate trash (flyers, advertisements, etc. 3)What needs to be shredded (credit card offers, medical information, anything with a social security or bank account information on it)

piles of junk mail

2.  Create an inbox for kept mail.

This is ONE place you will put the mail you are keeping. This is an active inbox, meaning it’s not meant for storage.  Everything you are keeping in the inbox should be something you need to pay or act on.

3. Go through your piles of paper.

I know this one is huge, but if you have piles of mail, paper, and magazines, this month you are to go through it.  90% of your piles can be thrown away, but you do need to eyeball each piece to pull out stuff that needs shredding. Pick away at your piles a little each day. I encourage you to set a time for 10-15 minutes at a time to work on your piles. Use the 3 decisions from #1 to sort through your piles. If you are coming across pieces of paper that you need to file away, just set them aside and we will talk about files in a blog post this month. Wondering how long to keep paper? Click on this link for a guide to what papers to keep and how long.

office files

The goal of this Organizing Challenge is to get you through your piles of paper and establish new habits this month! At first it’s going to seem like you’re thinking about paper all the time, but by week 3, your new habits will start to feel less annoying and start to give you freedom. Remember that a pile is NOT a file system, so by the end of February you will only have a stack of  papers that need a new home, preferably a hanging file home. Some of you might have not only piles, but also bags of paper. The challenge is to get through it all this month, so for now, focus on one pile at a time!

Post your progress in the comments or on the Simplified Living Today Facebook page! You can do this!

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Organizing for Busy Days: Prep Tips

Are your days busy? I know mine are and organizing for busy days is the key to not pulling your hair out! I wrote these tips a few years ago when my kids were in elementary school, but they still apply today (minus the clothes thing…they do that on their own now).  After watching this video, use these prep tips to help ease the pressure of morning routines.  I find that I have an easier 15 minutes in the evening than the morning and I find myself less stressed when heading out the door.

Organizing Your Life for Busy Mornings:

  1. Pack lunchboxes the night before and refrigerate.
  2. Every Sunday, help kids decide on the outfits for the week.  No changing minds unless the weather drastically does!
  3. Have backpacks ready and at the door before going to bed
  4. Prepare your workbag with all paperwork, supplies, etc. and set by door
  5. Make a task list for the next day before going to bed.  I recommend that you have a Sunday night meeting with yourself to plan out the whole weeks logistics and plans.
checklistmommy.com

checklistmommy.com

 Getting Kids on Board to Help!

  1. Make a morning “To Do” list for them to follow…teeth, hair, make bed, etc., when they are little and still need help.
  2. Whatever time they need to get up to be ready, push it back 15 minutes=No Stress!
  3. Help them to decide on a reward for being ready to leave on time!  Make it fun with a FUN jar.
  4. Set out bowls, cups, and silverware on table for breakfast.  You can even put the cereal box out on the table!

When my kids started kindergarten, I made a cardinal rule for morning routines and that is no TV in the morning during the school year!  It seems a little drastic, but I promise you that your morning will go smoother.

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12 Days of Christmas for the Home {Day 6}

12 days of christmas

Hello friend. Today is Day 6 of the 12 days of Christmas for the home series and we are talking holiday cards Are you on track for Christmas day? Behind? Already done?  If you’re done, we aren’t friends anymore.

Last week we ordered stamps from USPS and they should have arrived by now. Did you get yours?  Today you are to either start addressing your Christmas cards or finish them.  I sent out one batch already, but still have a stack to do.  To get them out quick, like before Christmas, make it a family affair.  Kids can put stamps on envelopes and stick/stamp return address labels.  They can also stuff the card into the envelope and lick it up!  All you have to do it write the address.

Even if you haven’t gotten cards, if you order today you can still get your Christmas cards from Tiny Prints by Thursday with rush delivery!

tiny prints christmas cards

Now, a quick word on cards…save this tip for next year.  I suggest to everyone that you get your cards ordered or bought in October.  I shoot for Halloween as my date for cards.  If you are getting pictures done or want to include some photos, early is always better.  Then, during the month of November or just after Thanksgiving, you can slowly pick away at them.  But fear not, if you are just starting cards this week, do a handful a night.  And I promise you that it’s OK if  they get there after Christmas (gasp)! Even consider a New Years card.  Look at this beautiful one from Tiny Prints.

new years card

Here is my family Christmas card that just got delivered from Minted.com

christmas card from minted.com

And lastly, if you need a gift, especially for family and grandparents, consider a wall calendar from Shutterfly.  I have made one almost every year and love them. Plus it’s a great last minute gift to have shipped directly to the recipient.

shutterfly calendar

Be sure to get ALL the tips for the 12 Days of Christmas for the Home!

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Simple Holiday Planning {Part One}

This is a throwback from 2 years ago when I launched the 6 Weeks to a Simple Holiday.  This was part of the 4th week, but since it’s already December and many of us are starting our decorating, it’s a good time to embrace simple holiday planning! With only 21 days to go until Christmas, simple sounds good!

christmas-presents

I believe in doing things in small increments…a little bit everyday, rather than trying to bang it all out at once.  That is stressful and can feel overwhelming. Hopefully by now you have made your holiday binder, started some shopping and got the ball rolling on your holiday cards.

Today, we’re talking Decorating.  I’m not going to tell you how to decorate for the holidays, but I am going to give you some tips about how to make it easier now, and for the years to come.  Before you break out all the decorations (I know many of you have already decorated, but take notes anyway) really think through these tips. Throughout this week, I will give you some pointers for when you un-decorate this year, but for now…

 

Here is just a general checklist to run through when you are looking at your decorations:

 *Each year decide what decorations you really LOVE to look at and treasure taking out of the box.

*Don’t keep something you don’t VALUE anymore.  Donate it or gift to another family member.

*You don’t have to use all the decorations each year.  Rotate some each year.

*Just because it’s Grandmas ornament doesn’t mean you have to keep it if you don’t LOVE looking at it.

*Toss out any trash or anything that you haven’t put out in 3 years.  Chances are, you are hanging on to it because you think you might use it one  Christmas.  You probably won’t and unless it has sentimental value, give it away.  You will free up space and make the season more hassle free.

*Big One: let go of things you don’t LOVE just because someone gave them to you.  Let go of the fear that they will come over during the holidays and not see the decoration they gave you.

* Don’t buy more decorations at the end of season sales unless you NEED them, absolutely LOVE them AND have a specific place in mind for them.

*Organize decorations based on types:Ornaments, manger scenes, books, linens, garland, mantel decor, candles, etc

*Use plastic bins to organize decorations and label each one clearly.  It’s best to purchase ornament boxes with the dividers for ornaments.  They won’t get broken and they are easy to use.

And just as a reminder…

 

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